Democratic Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s non-voting representative in the House, wants to see greater gender parity in crash-test dummies.
Mrs. Norton, who chairs of the House Transportation subcommittee on highways and transit, argues that legislation is needed to ensure vehicle safety standards are designed with women in mind as well as men.
“Women have achieved equality on the road when it comes to driving, but when it comes to safety testing to keep them safe on the road, they are nowhere near achieving equality,” said Mrs. Norton. “Crash-test standards are incredibly antiquated, and we must update these standards now, especially as more people return to their daily commute in the next few months.”
Currently, according to the delegate’s office, the federal government only runs vehicle safety tests with male crash-test dummies. Similarly, car manufacturers are not mandated by law to use both male and female dummies when conducting their tests.
This “antiquated” status quo, Mrs. Norton claims, leaves women at a “higher risk of injury” or death in car crashes.
“More important than differences in average height between males and females, there are also other biological differences in anatomy, such as average neck strength and posture, that affect how female and male bodies react in a crash,” Mrs. Norton’s office said in a statement.
A recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found that female drivers or front-seat passengers are 17% more likely to be killed than their male counterparts in car crashes.
Mrs. Norton’s legislation comes as congressional Democrats have made a broader push to advance gender equity since President Biden took office.